Client conferences and breakfast/lunch seminars are excellent forums for asset managers to deepen client relationships, showcase their firms’ intellectual capital and raise the visibility of a greater number of team members. Organizing and hosting these events, however, can be time-intensive and expensive. You want to make sure the events are well-attended, clients find the time valuable and the results warrant the investment.
Here are Seven Tips to help ensure successful events.
1. Know Your Objectives
What do you want to accomplish by hosting a client event? Perhaps it is retaining clients during a period of underperformance. Showcasing your firm’s intellectual capital. Introducing new team members and/or new investment offerings. Learning more about your clients’ interests, needs or concerns. Defining your objectives in advance will help you organize an event that attracts clients and accomplishes your specific goals at the same time.
2. Assign a Strong Project Manager
Every detail matters. Having a proficient project manager who manages the event planning and implementation, timeline and follow-up is essential. A well-run event is a reflection of a well-run asset management firm.
3. Create an Engaging Agenda with Timely, Relevant Topics
Provide your clients a list of topics you are considering, and invite them to submit additional topics they would like you to address. You will then be able to prioritize topics of greatest interest to clients. Include a combination of internal and external speakers whenever possible. Invite external speakers who will be a strong draw. Avoid salesy commercials for your firm or traditional strategy presentations.
Schedule the right amount of time and frequency – generally 1½ days for a client conference, and 2 to 2½ hours for a breakfast or lunch seminar. Every other year is generally ideal for conferences. Regional seminars in cities where you have concentrations of clients can be scheduled annually. Institutional clients and consultants receive a lot of invitations and are selective about those they attend. It is always best to avoid times when other big industry conferences are being held.
4. Communicate and Inform
Use a multi-dimensional approach. Inform clients in advance with “save-the-dates” and formal invitations. During meetings and calls with clients in the months preceding the event, have client service and sales professionals encourage clients to attend. Internally, communicate the event, objectives, internal roles and responsibilities, and clients attending to event participants and to all employees. Communicate details firm-wide about any clients who may also be visiting your offices. Prepare all employees to be welcoming, professional, gracious and helpful.
Prepare “welcome” bags with appropriate gifts (e.g., books authored and signed by event speakers, sunscreen if event is held in a sunny location, snacks, etc.). Elicit ahead of the event any special needs of clients who will be attending (e.g., handicap access, dietary preferences, transportation, reporting requirements for value of meals, etc.). Be sure these needs are addressed.
Have presenters practice both presentation content and delivery. Test all technology and equipment. Ideally, have all the presenters rehearse in the event venue using the technology (e.g., slide advancer, laser pointer, teleprompter, etc.). The more natural and conversational the presenters are, the better. Moving around on the stage rather than standing behind a lectern is optimal for engaging with your audience.
6. Maximize Opportunities to Interact with Clients
Create an event that is as interactive as possible. Encourage audience questions and engagement. Use audience members’ names and your colleagues’ names, and smile! Ask relevant questions using electronic, real-time polling tools to show results (for larger forums). If the event is held off-site, invite clients to visit your office before or after the event. Assign a “concierge host” for each client. Time permitting, give an office tour and introduce as many of your team members as possible. Offer meetings with portfolio managers and other members of your team. Learn if any clients would enjoy social interactions.
7. Debrief and Follow-Up
Schedule a date for the internal team to discuss what worked well and what would have made the event, presentations, venue, and logistics better. Did you achieve your objectives? Invite client feedback on the event. Ask what they found most valuable. What would have made the event better? What topics would they like addressed at future events? Thank them for their time and participation, and send a summary of key take-aways from the event. Also provide any specific follow-up requested by clients during the conference or office visit/tour.
“Every contact we have with a client influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.” ~ Kevin Stirtz
Do you have any tips or suggestions for organizing successful client events? Please comment below and share this article if you found it helpful. Stay engaged by following us!
Charnley & Røstvold, Inc., a preeminent marketing consulting firm to asset management firms ranging in size from start-up firms to some of the world’s largest investment firms with over $1 trillion under management. Charnley & Røstvold helps clients with competitive positioning, marketing strategies, key messages, presentation refinements, communications and sales training, consultant relations and client service programs.
Christine Røstvold, co-founder of Charnley & Røstvold, Inc., is a popular industry speaker and author. Christine was a founding board member of PAICR (Professional Association for Investment Communications Resources), and served on the Advisory Board for more than a decade.